National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Friday said that if Jammu and Kashmir wanted to go with Pakistan, it would have done so in 1947 and no one would have stopped it, the Hindustan Times reported.

“[Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister] Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had then told [former Prime Minister] Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru that our destiny lies with Mahatma Gandhi’s India and not of BJP’s [Bharatiya Janata Party’s] India,” he said at Jammu.

Farooq Abdullah was visiting Jammu along with his son and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah for the first time since the abrogation of special provisions under Article 370 and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into Union Territories in August 2019.

Farooq Abdullah also accused the Centre of using Kashmiri Pandits as a vote bank. “While Kashmiri Pandits are still in Jammu hoping to get back one day, for how long will you use them for votes and for how long will you spread hatred,” he asked.

“For 28 years, they [the Centre] are saying that Kashmiri Pandits will be taken back to their homes in the Valley,” Abdullah said, according to PTI. “They are in power for more than five years but they [Kashmiri Pandits] are still waiting for the day of their return.” Abdullah further cautioned people against the “divisive politics” of the BJP in the name of creed, caste, creed and religion.

The former chief minister said that the National Conference would not be intimidated by the arm-twisting tactics of the BJP government, adding that the struggle to get back Article 370, 35-A and other privileges will be taken to its logical conclusion.

Abdullah asserted that real development will take place in the Union Territory only when there is a people’s government and all the people’s rights are restored. “People are the real fountain of power,” the NC chief said. “When there will be elections, bring forth the people who can help the masses and are not self-centric.”

He said that the National Conference was not an “anti-national” party, asking those who making such an allegation to have their vision checked. He further asked his party workers to be patient when abused by opponents and said that rivals can burn his effigy and abuse him because it was a weapon of the weak and that the strong replies with patience and a smile.

The father-son duo was visiting Jammu to take part in the People’s Conference of Gupkar Alliance meeting on Saturday. Abdullah is the head of the alliance and Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti is his deputy.

The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration was announced on October 15 following a meeting at Abdullah’s residence in Srinagar. Under the Gupkar Declaration, regional parties and the Congress resolved to protect Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status and fight against any move to dilute it. On August 22, the six parties reaffirmed their commitment to the declaration and vowed to fight unitedly against the Centre’s decision to alter the region’s status.